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Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Ruins

Well, after the complete lunacy of Jack Frost 2, we're back to the usual grim, mostly humor-free stuff we usually watch together. it's unfortunate too....this week's movie, The Ruins, is pretty damned bizarre, with a killer twist that's hard NOT to do as a comedy! Without ruining the surprise(yet..), let's just say that it was pretty funny when Rick Moranis did it. Anyway, SPOILERS are "dead" ahead...

It begins at night, with a frightened young woman huddled on the ground, in a poorly-lit area. She looks skyward, then shouts for help several times. As she fiddles around with a cell phone she's clutching in one hand, it appears as if something drags her away off-screen. Hmmmm...

Then it's bright and sunny and green, tra la la la la. The faint sound of the female screaming can be heard again, then the scenery changes to a resort. 2 college-age kids, Jeff and Stacy, are playing Gin Rummy by the pool, and Stacy proposes that they play War next. When Jeff responds that War is just a game of luck, a girl named Amy reminds him that they had decided that the winner gets to pick the next game. Compelling stuff.

A second young man, Eric, brings over some alcoholic beverages to share. Oh, and Jeff's dating Amy, while Eric's with Stacy. Okay, we all on the same page now? Groovy.

As the drinks are being passed around, Amy discovers that one of her earrings has fallen off. A scruffy-bearded dude on the other side of the pool watches them search for it as he sips a beer. He then saunters over and introduces himself as Mathias, Finder(or, more likely, Absconder) of Lost Jewelry. Amazingly, nobody in the group ever questions how a guy who was nowhere near their side of the pool when they began their search, managed to get his hands on the earring.

As they share a drink with him, Mathias reveals that he's with a group on an archaeological dig at a Mayan temple. He invites them to tag along when he leaves for the site the next morning, and they all agree that it sounds like a fun adventure. Yeah, go off with some strange guy with a German accent, who stole something from you and wants to lure you into a jungle. That sounds safe!

They all remain on the beach until the sun sets, and play a silly game where they have to continue a story, one sentence per person. Then Stacy mentions that Jeff is studying to be a doctor, and the topic seems to make him uneasy. Oh, and just to add to the confusion, a couple of new characters show up, referred to as The Greeks. *cue ominous music*

Amy takes a huge swig from a bottle, and Jeff tries to coax her into calling it a night. Smashed out of her gourd, Amy falls over, and tries to pull him down with her. When Jeff declares that he's heading back to the hotel room, Amy remains behind and tries to flirt and dance with Mathias. Then Eric and Stacy talk about how Amy is behaving like a loon, because Jeff's med school will take him a couple-thousand miles from her.

As they watch Amy stagger-dance around with Mat, they place a friendly wager on whether or not Amy will kiss their new friend. The winner gets oral sex from the loser. Right before it looks like Stacy might lose the bet, she rushes over to Amy, and asks her friend to dance with her instead. Aw, cheater!

The following day,Jeff finds Mathias mapping out the travel route on a map for The Greeks to follow. *cue ominous music* Jeff tells them that he can get the others ready in half an hour, and they agree to meet up at the hotel.  While that discussion is going on, Eric tries to "collect his winnings" from the bet he made with Stacy. They also debate over whether to tell Jeff that his girlfriend kissed another man. This is quickly becoming a soap opera....and a dull one, at that!

As Eric promises Stacy that it'll be quick, there's a segue to Amy puking in a toilet. Pretty funny, if you think about it. I guess this film's got more humorous touches than I remembered. Anyway, Amy tries to remain behind in the room, but Jeff won't hear of it. She lets him talk her into going on the hike.

They all take a bus to a poverty-stricken village, and try to figure out if they can hike the rest of the way or not. as nthe girls take pictures, the guys approach a local in a truck, to ask if he can drive them at least partway there. A dog in the back of the truck nearly scares them shitless, as well as me. Geez.

The guy in the truck agrees to drive them, but seems to want to take them to a different temple ruin. No one in the group seems concerned about that though, and they all pile into the back of his pickup. They speed off down the dirt road, going God-only-knows where. Seriously, are they all suffering from head injuries or something? These folks are dumb, even by typical horror movie standards!

The driver takes them, well, "somewhere", and they all jump off the truck. At this point, there isn't even a basic dirt road, it's all just grass and trees. None of them think it's weird, and one guy even goes so far as to announce that he thinks it looks like they're in the right place. Hell, it's not even a PLACE!

The driver hurries away, and they all begin to panic as they wonder how they're going to get back to the village. Mat announces that he has a "world phone", whatever the heck that is, and they also find his brother's vehicle parked near where they were dropped off. Okay, problem solved!

Even as they follow the map, the journey gets to be fairly strenuous. They stop to take a break, and spot some local Mayan girl silenly watching them. The girls try to communicate with her, but she either doesn't understand, or doesn't want to speak to the tourists. It's probably a little bit of both. I guess maybe they don't feel the jungle love, oh wee oh wee oh!

A path is found, but it's been covered up by leaves and branches. They argue over whether or not it's the right path, considering that someone went to pretty extreme lengths to conceal it. In the end, they decide that it must be the route to the temple, as no other path seems to exist in the vicinity. I hope they all paid their MENSA dues this month!

The path leads to a clearing, and they do indeed find a massive temple. Mathias spots what looks like a tent at the top of the structure, and the girls take more pictures. Then an old man comes charging into the clearing on horseback, and yells at them in words they can't comprehend. He has facial hair that makes him resemble a capuccin monkey. I'll bet he's down with the sickness.

Another pair of Mayans arrive with more horses, and both of the new men are armed with bows and arrows. Amy takes photographs of all 3 men, and the Mayans don't seem bothered by it, until she steps backwards into some bushes. Then all Hell breaks loose.

The trio of Mayans suddenly all start shouting at the same time, and reaching for their weapons. Dimitri approaches Amy to grab the camera, thinking that it's what set the Mayans off, but it wasn't. One of them shoots off an arrow into the young tourist's shoulder. As everyone stares at the arrow in shocked silence, the older man shoots a gun right at Dimitri's face.

Terrified by the sudden turn of events, the remaining students climb the temple to get to the safety of the tent. They immediately observe that the site is set up, but no one from the dig seems to be there. This leads to more fighting and fear, as they wonder what they've gotten themselves into.

There's an opening into the temple, and a rope-and-pulley system. They shout into the temple, but there's no response. Mathias steps over to the edge of the platform and stares down at the crazy Mayans as they settle in to wait the students out. Then he sees something  nearby, covered by a vine, and examines it closer. It's the body of one of the dig crew. Not only was it concealed by plants, but the vines were clinging and growing over the body, and even in the corpse itself.

Jeff decides to take over, and begins by rationing their water supply. He also suggests that they conduct a search for food, to buy themselves some time as they wait for The Greeks *cue ominous music* to show up and save them. Then they faintly hear a ringtone, and it appears to belong to Heinrich, the brother Mathias mentioned.

Working together, they get Mathias straddled into the rope-pulley device, and lower him slowly down into the darkness. The phone in the ruins keeps ringing the entire time. As he gets closer, the rope snaps, and poor Mathias plummets into the darkness.

A quick rescue plan is agreed upon, one that involves sending Stacy down to rescue the injured man. She is lowered down the shaft(wait, isn't the rope broken now?), while Amy tries to get help from the Mayans. When she fails to make them understand, Amy gets  frustrated, and throws a balled-up pile of the vines at the Mayans. The vine hits a boy, and the adults murder him(another gunshot to the face...these guys have a face fetish), then threaten the teens again.

So, Amy gets to join Stacy down in the temple, with a makeshift gurney for Mathias. Good thing too, because Stacy was hearing a cell phone in the dark and freaking out while sitting around. They disagree about moving him or not, but to leave him there would be a death sentence. Working slowly, the set up the gurney, then try to figure out how to lift the injured guy without making it worse.

In a shocking plot twist, amongst much screaming and agony, they lift Mathias onto the gurney. Presumably, they make things much worse. Jeff has everyone check the tents for anything that can be used to treat Mat's wounds, but it doesn't look good. Jeff figures that the injured legs will be what kill the poor guy.

That night, while Amy tries to slepp, Stacy makes a production out of giving Eric a handjob under their sleeping bag. Glad to see that a little thing like "impending doom" hasn't dampened their spirits. Eric, by the way, just lays there like a lump.

Early the following morning, Jeff finds Amy sitting outside, and he decides to take a piss on the vines. He detects movement in the vines near his area, and finds a decaying corpse underneath. Amy walks up behind him, and gives Jeff a reassuring embrace.

Stacy is the next one to wake up, and she doesn't feel quite right. She feels something under the sleeping bag with her, and pulls it back to reveal that her legs are now covered with the vines that they've seen surrounding the area. She gets upset, and she and Eric work at pulling them off of her legs. It's not as simple as it strand of the vine has somehow burrowed INTO her leg, requiring Eric to tug and tug at it, until it comes out.

I'll bet you thought that was the end of the morning fun, right? Nope! Mathias is awake, and complaining about something being wrong as well. Amy approaches him, pulls back the covering over his lower half, and discovers that his legs are completely bound up by even more vines. Amy and Jeff work at getting the vines off of him, and the legs are a bloody, grisly mess. What's left of them, anyway.

At that point, they all hear the ringtone in the temple again. Amy and Stacy get sent down together, and are armed with makeshift torches doused in alcohol. They are told to remain together, and work together to locate the mysterious phone. They pinpoint the location of the sound at a vine-covered wall, and discover the body of (I'm guessing) Heinrich, the brother that Mathias mentioned earlier.

They search his body for the phone and quickly locate it, but there's a problem: the phone is cracked and broken. Then they hear the ringtone yet again, still coming from the wall. Amy leans closer to look, and sees red flowers on the vines opening and emitting the sound of the ringtone. Then the vines try to grab her, and more bodies fall away from the wall in the process.

Yup, killer vines and parrot-flowers. I'll bet you never saw that plot twist coming, huh??? Of course, that now technically disqualifies this as any kind of slasher, but since there are humans causing their deaths too, I'm going to soldier on. It's no dumber than a killer made out of electricity or dreams, right?

Anyway, the vines latch onto Stacy, but Amy comes back to help her to her feet. They return to the rope, and shout at the guys to pull them up. The vines try to grab at them the entire way, and both girls scurry out of the opening when they reach the top. Jeff asks if they found the phone, and they tell him that there is no phone, which requires a much lengthier explanation.

When both women are calmer, they describe what happened. Neither Eruc nor Jeff believe them, but Amy and Stacy both insist that they saw the vines making the ringtone sound, then attacking them. Eric springs into action, and decides that he needs to try to make a run for the vehicle, but Jeff points out that the Mayans now outnumber them, by 60 to 4(not including Mathias, who is busy becoming plant food). They decide that the best course of action is still to wait for either a search party, or the arrival of The Greeks. *cue ominous music*

They gather to take their ration of water, and Jeff brings some over to Mathias. He examines the progress of the leg wounds, then returns to the others, and announces that he has to amputate the legs in order for Mathias to survive beyond that day. Boy, I'll bet Mathias is really regretting grabbing that earring, huh?

Eric opposes the plan, mostly because Jeff has next to no experience in medicine. When he asks Jeff what he plans to use for anesthesia and a scalpel, Jeff holds up a piddly little knife that looks like it would have trouble slicingn through bread. As for a numbing agent, Jeff reveals that the vines have eaten the skin right down to the bone, and that he thinks it might be relatively painless. Yeah, sure it will. You try it first, Jeffy boy. Let us know how that works out.

It devolves into a situation where they all have to vote, and it comes down to a tie. Then Mathias speaks up, and also votes for the amputation. Having made the decision, Jeff gives Mathias a heavy swig of alcohol, then tells him that he's going to begin by breaking the bones first, and then cutting them off. Fun!

Hey, guess what? Jeff was wrong! It's incredibly painful, and it's also time-consuming! After Jeff removes the carnage that used to be a pair of legs, he cauterizes the stumps with a frying pan that was held in the fire. This is going to be the most epic "How I Spent My Summer Vacation..." essay ever!

The girls emerge from their tent again, and start up another disagreement with Jeff. They remind him that he claimed that Dimitri wouldn't feel a thing...but then he did. As the anger rises, they almost miss seeing the vines sneaking toward Dimitri, and dragging away the bloody severed feet.

Later that night, Eric shows an image from one of the phones to the girls, and he doesn't look too pleased. Meanwhile, Jeff is pacing the temple roof, and watching the Mayans bring in more fires and tents, as they move closer to the ruins to watch the teens better. Amy finds Eric sitting by himself, and she asks about Stacy.They talk about how bleak it all looks, then end up comforting each other with a hug.

Stacy then wakes up, convinced that they're screwing behind her back, because the vines are making moaning sounds near her. When she gets up and confronts them, she tells them that she heard them having sex, with lots of groaning and moaning. Jeff also wakes up, and all 3 try to calm Stacy down. That just makes her yell louder.

As they all work out the problem, Mathias is getting cocooned by the killer vine. They all hear his cries and struggles, but far too late to actually help him. I hope he's in a better place...and that his legs joined him as well in that place...

Anyway, the gore and killings have pushed Stacy right over the edge into LooneyLand. She grabs the knife and begins an attempt at cutting the vines out of her body. When her friends try to take the knife, Stacy backs away and screams, "You're not listening to me!"

That phrase catches the interest of the vines, and the red flowers shout it back to her as a taunt.The humans all look fairly disturbed by the sound.Amy and Jeff get some alone time, and both apologize for how they reacted. Then they hear Eric, asking them both to come look at Stacy for a moment.

She's covered in the vines, beneath her shirt. Knowing no other way to get rid of them, Jeff offers to cut and pull them out by force. He starts with her leg, pulling out a lengthy strand of the plant, with Stacy yelling with the pain and shaking. The next one, attached to her back, is much worse. He pulls several handfuls out of that area, and the pain becomes unbearable for her.

After the procedure, Stacy sits with the others again. She starts out by saying that they didn't get all of the vines, because she can still fell them moving inside her. She even claims to feel one in her head, and the others look pretty scared. She suggests more cutting, but Jeff tells her that it wouldn't be safe.  When she tries to cut herself, Jeff makes sure that she can't have the knife.

 At dawn, Stacy wakes up before her friends, and silently searches for the knife. She limps around the campsite, and then announces to the plants that she's going to get them out of her. Yeah, she's now a lunatic. Poor Stacy.

The others wake up, find that Stacy has left the tent, and find her at the edge of the roof, with her back to them. They attempt to speak to her, and she turns around, revealing that she's bleeding pretty bad. Jeff and Eric come up behind her, and Stacy stabs Eric in the chest.

She watches him fall and die, then screams his name. Amy tries to soothe her, but Stacy gets even more agitated when she sees the vines start to drag poor Eric away. Jeff fights off the vines, while Stacy begs Amy to kill her. Jeff picks up the knife, and either hacks away at poor Eric, or kills Stacy. Either way works for me.

The next scene shows Jeff covering Amy from head to toe with blood...but is it Stacy's or Eric's blood??? Jeff has an escape plan, but it looks pretty strange. He gives her instruction about the car and the path, and insists that she must follow the plan exactly for it to work.

Jeff picks up Amy, now drenched in blood, and walks down to the clearing. With the Mayans watching, he places her gently on the ground and kisses her. Then Jeff faces the Mayans, tells them a little bit of his background, and hers as well. The entire time, he's getting further and further away from Amy's "corpse". Then he screams her name, and she gets up and begins running into the jungle. Sadly Jeff is shot full of arrows.

Amy runs through the dark jungle, and only stops when she hears a gunshot. It was the elderly Mayan, who finished Jeff off with a bullet to the face. This dude really enjoys placing bullets into faces... Hey, let's rewind, and take a drink every time someone is shot in the face!

That motivates Amy to move again, but her trackers are catching up. They shoot at her a few times, but miss. Then she gets to the jeep, and it starts, letting her speed down the road. As she gets away, it's revealed that a piece of the vine is crawling around in her face, just under her eye.

The last scene features The Greeks! *cue ominous music* They arrive at the ruins, calling out to Dimitri... THE END

Yeah, pretty somber, for a premise that usually isn't so serious. Terrific kills, though....Dimitri's death, in particular, was grueling to watch. And like I said earlier, most of the deaths in the film were related to things the humans did, not the plants. I'll give it 3.5 killer trees out of 5, just for the crazy subject matter and numerous deaths.

And what has The Ruins taught me?

-Well, avoid the plants in Mexico!(See, and you thought it was the water that would harm you...)

-Mayans make terrible neighbors.

-If you want folks not to trespass, some kind of sign would really help!

-Having a couple of characters in a movie, and not naming them, automatically makes them scary!

No movie this week coming up(Aug 19-25), as I have 2 surgical procedures within days of each other.  The following week, I'll be watching a movie called Body Parts. Now go off and watch something happy this week!